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California Community Colleges Are Sharing Practices With Promise

By Van Ton-Quinlivan

Through a new online tool, California Community Colleges is sharing the system’s success stories in workforce development.

Like many other states, California is facing a significant challenge: providing a pipeline of skilled workers that meet the needs of employers. Many say that California is too large to respond nimbly to regional, state and national calls to close the skills gap, but California’s community colleges are up to the challenge. In 2012, California Community Colleges launched Doing What MATTERS™ for Jobs and the Economy (DWM), a framework that aims to supply employers with a trained workforce and prepare California’s students for 21st-century careers.

As the nation’s largest workforce training provider, the 112 California community colleges have a vested interest in collecting, documenting and sharing the ideas and programs that drive student success and boost workforce outcomes. A new online tool — Practices with Promise: Workforce Outcomes eShowcase — allows California community colleges to do just that.

Leaders from colleges across the state have contributed examples of the innovative ways they are addressing workforce development issues in these areas:

  • Industry Engagement. These stories highlight the use of industry data, partnerships, customized training and advisory relationships to inform curriculum decisions and improve graduates’ skills.
    • Example from the field: Merced College partnered with advanced manufacturing employers in the Central Valley region to improve the college’s mechanic training.
  • Data-Backed Decision-Making. Program leaders share how they are using labor market information, test scores and customized IT systems to track student outcomes, make programming decisions and document career preparation.
    • Example from the field: The business management consultancy WestEd developed a data collection system that gathers course numbers and unique student ID numbers to track student characteristics, goals and outcomes.
  • Contextualized Content. These stories document collaborative solutions that bring together K-12 educators, college instructors, students and industry partners to drive college readiness, improve career pathways and provide real-world experience that encourages students to continue their education.
  • Student Engagement and Career Awareness. Leaders communicate the details of innovative programs that help students explore careers, experience work-based learning environments and move toward completion by offering opportunities to earn college credit.
    • Example from the field: Barstow Community College’s Career Academy offers free career technical education courses to middle and high school students, which help them explore career pathways while earning college credits.
  • Regional Collaboration.These stories showcase regional efforts to meet industry needs through entrepreneurship, apprenticeships and specialized worker training.
    • Example from the field: Napa Valley College partnered with the Napa, Solano and Sonoma county offices of education to hold a regional business plan competition for students.

We continue to emphasize the importance of regional collaboration in meeting workforce demands and employers’ needs. The Workforce Outcomes eShowcase provides valuable program details and data to help community colleges duplicate or customize what’s worked at other California colleges. This tool helps our colleges build on the system’s successes by encouraging rapid adoption of best practices to meet our student completion and workforce development goals.

Van Ton-Quinlivan

is the vice chancellor of the Workforce and Economic Development Division of the California Community Colleges.

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